Inspirational Thought

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 7:13 NIV

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sylvia Rimm's Parenting Advice - Wednesday April 1, 2009

Manipulations After Divorce Are Tricky

Sylvia Rimm Q. My ex and I have been divorced for two years and our kids are now 3 and 5 years old. We currently have a nearly 60/40 split with parenting time. The kids are with me 60 percent of the time. However, my 5-year-old has expressed that she wants more time with her father and is mad at me for not letting her have more and for "not sharing with daddy." My question is, should I go to a more 50/50 split so our kids can see him more? I feel like I'm competing with him and his girlfriend for the love of the kids and it's depressing. If we go to 50/50, how does that affect the kids when they're in school? Thanks for your insight.

A. My best guess is that your 5-year-old daughter has been coached with her lines to you, and that seems like uncomfortable manipulation. Why not talk to your ex and explain that you'd rather not change any official agreements because of your concerns about school years, but that you'd be happy to be flexible in making exceptions to give him more time with the children if he'd like. If he's interested, suggest that you set up a regular way of communicating with each other to arrange the children's visitations. You could also explain that it's best not to make children into messengers after a divorce.

When you communicate to your daughter about the temporary change you're making, explain that you're always happy to hear about her feelings, but that you and her dad will work out what's best for her. Let's hope her dad doesn't congratulate her on making her mom "share more" or you'll soon have a very manipulative child.

Once your children are in school regularly, it does seem to be easier for children to stay in the same home during school days. If you and your ex live near one another, weekday visits can still happen. You'll both want to consider what's fair to the children, rather than only what's fair to the parents.

For a free newsletter about helping children after divorce, send a large self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI, 53094, or read "Helping Your Children Cope With Divorce at


Organizational Skills Can Be Learned

Q. I'd like to know how best to handle my 18-year-old son who finds it very difficult to organize himself. He does a lot of things, but is quite undisciplined.

A. If your son is planning to attend college or take a job, he'll need to organize himself reasonably. Fortunately, organizational skills can be learned, but one needs to be motivated to learn them. By age 18, this needs to be your son's responsibility and if you remind him too many times, he's likely to avoid organization in opposition to you. If he's doing well in school and with his extra- curricular activities, you can be less worried; but if his grades are poor because of his disorganization, an evaluation by a psychologist before he enters adult life could be helpful to him.

For a free newsletter about organizational skills, send a large self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI, 53094, or visit for more parenting information.

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


Bo said...

I don't understand how you concluded that the father had coached the daughter in "Manipulations After Divorce Are Tricky". I saw nothing indicating manipulation in the letter. Was the letter edited or abridged?

DOakley said...

I didn't conclude anything. Notice the article is not written by me. It's written by Sylvia Rimm.

But, that being said, a five year old would not have the capacity to say "you're not sharing me enough with daddy". A five year old would say, "I miss daddy".

So, while it might be a stretch to say that she's been coached, I don't think it's that much of a stretch at all. If she hasn't been coached she's overheard her father say such things and is repeating them. Kids pay much closer attention than you think.

Bo said...

Oops -- Sorry I attributed Rimm's advice to you; I wasn't reading closely enough. :)

...but I do think a 5 year old girl who's been living in a divorced household for 2 years could understand that she is being "shared" between mommy and daddy.

I am divorced with a 7 year old daughter who also wants to spend more time with daddy. It was just a little depressing to see Rimm immediately assume that it must be the father's coaching rather than the daughter's actual feelings.